Reporting intern discovers a new style of writing

Jason Stuart
Thursday, November 28, 2019
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Noah French

Meet our new reporters

Noah French may have just graduated from high school, but he knows he wants to be a writer, and so he has chosen to start honing his writing skills and start figuring out what kind of writer he wants to be by delving into community journalism.

French joined the Glendive Ranger-Review as an intern reporter on Nov. 4. He is only six months out from getting his high school diploma, having graduated from Dawson County High School in May 2019. Rather than go straight to college, French decided to take a year off. He said he plans to attend MSU-Billings starting next fall, but for now he is soaking up some realworld experience and learning the ropes of journalism and newswriting.

French said he has known for some time that he wants to make his living as an adult with the written word, and while he doesn’t yet know exactly what form that will take, he is eager to learn all he can during his stint with the newspaper.

“Since my sophomore year, I’ve wanted to do something in English, writing or literature, and this was the most accessible thing I could do,” French said of his decision to take a job with the Ranger-Review. “I kind of want to do a job where I am writing consistently. So even if (journalism is) not what I end up doing, I am doing what I want to do in some way.”

What draws French to writing, he said, are stories and storytelling, be that in the form of the theater, literature or journalism.

“I kind of have a fascination with stories, I suppose. I kind of like all kinds of different stories,” he said. “I don’t know what I’ll be doing eventually, but if I get to interact with stories, I think I’ll make it through.”

Of course journalism, which French has no previous experience at, is a much different style of writing than writing a school essay, or a play, or a novel, with its own peculiar rules and forms. That’s something he said he has quickly learned during his short time with the newspaper, but he is eager to learn more and believes it will help him down the road, no matter what kind of writer he ends up becoming.

“I’ve learned it’s a very different type of writing. The way you work with facts and information is very interesting,” French said. “Regardless of whether or not I am a reporter for the rest of my life, I think I am learning a lot about condensing information in my writing.”

French added he has taken a greater interest in non-fiction writing of late, and so learning to interact with sources and use the information gleaned from them to build a cohesive narrative is a valuable lesson he believes he will take away from his time spent working for the paper.

“I think it really is interesting working with direct information and having direct contact with the source and getting information firsthand is really interesting,” he said. “It’s helping me contextualize a lot more how you take information and put it into writing.”

Another aspect of journalism that French did not have any experience working with was how journalists have to take information from sources and write a news story that’s in their own voice, but without diluting the information or putting their own “spin” on it. Maintaining objectivity in their reporting is something every journalist struggles — and sometimes fails — to achieve. It can be a delicate and difficult balancing act, something that up until now French had not experienced.

“It’s a weird balance that I haven’t had to deal with so much,” he said.

Where he will go from here and how exactly he’ll end up applying the lessons and experience he gains from working for the newspaper are unknowns to him as of now, but French is young and has plenty of time to work all that out. The one thing he does know is that whatever he ends up doing as a career, he wants writing to be a part of it.

“I might be looking to become an author, or looking to become a teacher and teach writing to somebody else, so I’m juggling a lot of ideas,” French said.

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